Wallenstein's importance for North-Bohemia

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9. Wallenstein's importance for North-Bohemia

Of the many military leaders of the 30 Years War one was of special importance for the Germans in Bohemia: Wallenstein. He was born 1583 in Hermanitz at the Elbe as Albrecht von Waldstein, and in spite of this name he was a descendent of an old Czech lineage. His education began at the Lutheran Latin School in Goldberg, Silesia, and continued at the Lutheran University of Altdorf, near Nuremberg. Later on, he was introduced into the Catholic society by Jesuits in Rome. Through marriage this impoverished East-Bohemian squire ascended to being an important Moravian landowner. His second wife opened him the way into the higher nobility. During these years, he had emerged as a great business manager, and soldiering served him as a means to an end. He consolidated his estate and pondered how he, as a private person, could profit from the immense sums of money the state was squandering on the war. He bought, sold, bartered and attained in just a few years a practically closed area in North-Bohemia extending from his inherited estate at the upper Elbe, across the bow of this river to its exit from Bohemia. The duchy of Friedland alone covered some sixty estates.

During the 30 Years War, Wallenstein, as he then called himself, offered his services to his imperial friend Kaiser Ferdinand II to raise an army. He organized a modern, orderly force, segmented in regiments, uniformly equipped with weapons, helmets and headware. An administrative system provided camping facilities, food and pay. This required a rigorous discipline attainable only by paying the soldiers punctually and not exposing them to hungriness. Wallenstein raised the money by means of severe but regulated levies. The payments went into the coffers of Wallenstein's army and from there into coffers of his Bohemian property management which provided whatever the army needed. North-Bohemia produced all sorts of military materials. The powder mills, blacksmith shops, clothiers and saddlers found work in heretofore unknown volumes. This gave birth to the first cohesive regional economy in central Europe, uniformly organized and promoted by government. Approximately two thirds of this economic region, i.e. the Duchy of Friedland, was located in German-speaking areas. The war economy brought earnings large enough to enable other lines of trade to prosper as well, such as glass grinding, the cloth and linen weaving mills, paper mills. Although these conditions lasted for only about half a lifetime, it was a determining period for the further development of Bohemia, especially German Bohemia.

Regardless of how one views Wallenstein as a person, his martial skills or his death, for the Sudetenlanders he remains a vivid beholder of a "Bohemian Nationality", embodying a closely bonded German and Czech heritage free of conflict.


Copyright © by Inge Schwarz 1997 (Heimatstelle Maffersdorf) 
Copyright © by Anton Möller • 2005

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